WASHINGTON – Conservative Rabbi David Wolpe heads the annual list of America’s
top 50 rabbis put out by Newsweek Monday.
Wolpe, who moved up from the
number two spot last year, heads the largest Conservative congregation on the
West Coast and has played a prominent public role defending faith nationwide, is
followed by Chabad movement leader Yehuda Krinsky, who held the top slot for two
years before being bumped for Wolpe.
Next comes Peter Rubinstein – who
played a crucial political role mediating between the Occupy Wall Street
protesters and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office – from his post at
Manhattan’s Central Synagogue and four other Reform leaders scattered among the
The list mostly contains the same names as in previous years,
with Orthodox rabbi and best-selling author Shmuley Boteach experiencing the
biggest fall – from 11th place last year to 30th in the current standings. The
drop comes as he has arguably raised his profile significantly by entering the
race for a New Jersey congressional seat, though could be due to the negative
publicity Newsweek cites from a Forward examination of public records finding
that his charity spends significant amounts of its revenue on Boteach himself
and his family.
The eight newcomers, in order of their rankings, are
Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Goldin; haredi Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky; Reform Rabbi
Marcia Zimmerman; Conservative Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove; Modern Orthodox Rabbi
Shmuly Yanklowitz; Reform Rabbi Micah Greenstein; and Reform Rabbi Rachel
The list was compiled by Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president
of Time Warner Inc., Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Corporation of America, former
60 Minutes producer Abigail Pogrebin and researcher Raphael Magarik.
explanation of their criteria begins by noting that the list is subjective and
concludes by noting that “if a rabbi was dropped from the list, it isn’t
necessarily because we deemed that person unworthy but because we want to make
room for fresh voices.”